Thank God It’s 2021!

Look, 2021, I’m not trying to put any pressure on you but, geez, 2020 was a really lousy, stinking, rotten, sucky year. Yes, I am expecting better of you but I also understand that things do not always go as planned. Still, do your best, okay? There are a lot of folks around the globe hurting because of what your predecessor gave us. Is it too much to ask for more good than bad over the next 12 months? Thanks for your consideration.


Here We Go Again

With temperatures dropping steadily and occasional skiffs of snow in the air, I pulled my wool Winter socks out of storage last week. If you have been a devotee of this blog (who isn’t except most of the world?) you know that one pair of wool socks, formerly known as Bert Left and Ernie Right, became an integral part of my pandemic survival plan.

Bert Left and Ernie Right – “Fun Toes,” huh? Well that depends.

I decided on the first day I wrote this blog to wear them daily without washing them for as long as possible. At the time I wasn’t sure how long that could have been. It could have been until I was given the choice of sleeping in the garage or in the house. Or it could have been until the dogs stopped coming to me for a head scratch or doggie treat. Or it might have been until the wool fabric rotted and fell off my feet or, alternatively, my feet rotted and poured out of the socks.

As it turned out, “as long as possible” was until May 27, 2020 and Day 72 of my daily blog-a-thon. Bert and Ernie went unwashed for the first 72 days of the pandemic. It was an experiment in my endurance, our household’s collective sense of smell, and, more importantly, Clemencia’s tolerance of her husband’s ill-considered behavior. Finally, in the Day 72 blog Bert and Ernie were no more. They blew it. They sneaked out of the house on their own without masks like too many Stupid People have done in the months of the pandemic. I could not longer abide such risk-taking and insubordination so they disappeared into the washing machine and dryer, emerging as new, but well worn, socks.

Or so I thought.

As I was putting my wool socks into my dresser drawer I heard a familiar voice:

  • Bert: Hey Bonehead, where ya’ been?
  • Ernie: Yeah, what did you do to us?
  • Me: What?!? You two are still alive?
  • Ernie: Well, not really alive, I mean, we ARE a figment of your imagination but, hey, we are a pretty real figment.
  • Me: It can’t be, I put you in the washing machine myself and I saw you tumbling in the dryer.
  • Bert: Uh-huh. We know. And we aren’t very appreciative of it…though we were really glad to be off your feet.
  • Ernie: So, Bonehead, where have we been and what did we miss?
  • Me: You’ve been in a box in the closet with my other wool socks that are too heavy to wear in warm weather.
  • Bert: Did we have our own box? We deserve our own box, you know. I mean, hey, people only read your drivel because of us.
  • Me: No, you didn’t have your own box. You were in with all the others.
  • Ernie: That’s a fine way to treat us, Bonehead. Think of all we did for you!
  • Me: Did for me!?!? You’re kidding right? Look at what I did for you! I gave you two personalities and brought you to life…even if only in my imagination.
  • Bert: Big deal! We didn’t need you for that, Bonehead. We came to life to help you out.
  • Me: Help me out!?! You almost killed me! You ran away without masks, got bored, came back, and waltzed in the door like you were entitled to be treated like the Prodigal Sons. No way! You might have brought the virus into our home.
  • Ernie: Hey, there was only one Prodigal Son, you numbskull. And did we bring the virus here?
  • Me: No
  • Ernie: Then what are you whining about?
  • Bert: That’s enough of your complaining about all the good things we’ve done for you. Now, what did we miss while we were stuffed away with all those “other” socks?
  • Me: You missed a Presidential election. It looks like we are really going to get a new President of the United States.
  • Ernie: Is it that “Bootahedge” guy (or whatever his name was)? I kind of liked him.
  • Bert: Is it Bernie? I liked his hair and how stern he always looked. My kind of guy!
  • Me: No, it is Joe Biden as President and Kamala Harris as Vice-President.
  • Bert: Oh, well, that sounds fine. What’s going to happen with that Trumpet guy?
  • Me: You mean “Trump”?
  • Bert: If you say so.
  • Me: He has been doing everything he can to contest the election and say that he won…even though he lost by 7 million votes and in the Electoral College.
  • Ernie: How can he do that?
  • Me: Well, he can protest it but he can’t prove there was any cheating or that he actually won, so it seems Biden and Harris will be inaugurated in a couple of weeks.
  • Bert: What about the virus thing? I’m feeling a little congested myself.
  • Ernie: Bert, that’s only because we’ve been cramped into a box by Bonehead where we had to breathe in the fibers of other wool socks.
  • Me: The pandemic is roaring on. So far there are about 350,000 people dead and over 20 million cases of COVID-19 that have been reported in our country.
  • Bert: Wow, that seems like a lot. Hey, Ern, I’m thinking we need to go back into that box for a while, you know?
  • Ernie: Sounds like a good idea, Bert. Hey Bonehead, can you give us a lift back into the box.
  • Me: Nope! In fact, I’m wearing you today!
  • Bert and Ernie: Oh, great! Ugh!

Worthy Reads

If you haven’t already seen this, I think you’ll enjoy Dave Barry’s Year in Review for 2020. Of course, if you have already seen it, you may enjoy reading it again. I love the subtitle of this year’s article: “And we thought past years were awful.” That kind of says it all but Dave Barry says it in his own inimitable way. Enjoy!

The Religion News Service published a piece titled What Jesus Means to Me as a Muslim. It is not a long piece to read. It is quite thoughtful and interesting. It also has expanded my own understanding of Islam, for which I am appreciative.


Just Because

It has been a while since I’ve included any song parodies in the Drivel. However, I did find one that I thought was share worthy. This is from Chris Mann and it is The 12 Days of Quarantine.

Have you ever wanted to yodel? Who hasn’t! Here’s a brief video from a young yoderler named Cassidy that will give you the basics.


The View from Jeff

I’ve got two fun Jeff Logan originals for this blog. One is Christmas themed and the other New Years. Hey, by the way, don’t forget to check out Jeff’s Instagram page for more of Jeff’s fun and funny work.

Jeff’s Notes: We get games for Christmas. This year we got one called “Drop the Beat” where you have to freestyle rap…I think I will stay with the day job (and I won).
Jeff’s Note: This was a doodle I drew as I was thinking about my last sermon of the year. As the year comes to a close, it is going to quite enjoyable to say good bye to 2020.

I agree with Jeff. I’m so glad to have 2020 in the rearview mirror. As I was out walking yesterday I smelled a friend of mine nearby and followed my nose to his back deck where we chatted for a few minutes (and, yes, we were more than 6 feet apart). I know…it sounds terrible to say that I could smell him but I did, but allow me to explain. He smokes a distinctive brand of cigar and though I don’t know the brand, I knew it was him from about 50 yards away.

He is about four years older than me and we have played golf together on a few occasions. He is a Vietnam War veteran and saw some pretty scary and awful things in his military career. Despite all that he has seen in his life he said to me, “Tom, I never thought I would say this but with all we’ve been through this year, this is the worst time I’ve ever seen.” We talked about how our parents were born just prior to the Spanish Flu pandemic in the last century and how they also lived through the Great Depression. This pandemic is for us what those may have been for our parents. As frightening and discouraging as that could sound, we realized, though, that our parents made it through and it gave us hope and confidence that we will as well. Hope and confidence is what it will take to get us through…no matter how long it lasts.

Instead of the usual closing I’m going to leave you with one last video as a New Year’s greeting from Clemencia and me to you. Let’s all work together to make 2021 a happier, healthier, and healing year for all.

Wee Bit o’ Holiday Drivel

HO! (sigh) Ho! (sigh) ho. (deep sigh). It is tough to get into the holiday spirit this year, eh? Well this Klaus has a mixed bag of drivel for your holiday enjoyment. (Featured Photo by Tom Klaus: The Icelandic Yule Lads at The Pearl in Reykjavik, December 2019)


What Did She Say?

Actually, this is really cool. A 17-year-old student in Fort McMurray, Alberta (nearly as far North in Alberta as you can get…but not quite) entered and won the Breakthrough Junior Challenge. Not a small deal. She won a $250,000 scholarship for herself; $50,000 for her high school science teacher; and a $100,000 award for a new science lab at her school. How’d she do it? By explaining a complex scientific concept to drivelers like me. You can see Maryam’s award winning entry below.


From Brilliance to This…
Nuf’ said.

Now Back to Something Really Sublime…

Each year for the past umpteen years Clemencia and I have attended a performance of Handel’s Messiah sometime in December. We’ve seen it performed by the renowned Baltimore Symphony Orchestra at the Meyerhoff. We’ve seen it performed by the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. We’ve seen it performed by the U.S. Naval Academy Glee Club in the Naval Academy Chapel in Annapolis, featuring our friend and former neighbor, Danielle Talamantes. Last year we saw it performed by the University of Maryland Symphony Orchestra and Chamber Singers in College Park. Our favorite, however, which we have seen several times, is the rendition of the classic done by the National Philharmonic at Strathmore in Bethesda, Maryland.

We love the sound of music at Strathmore with its all wooden interior. And we especially love to hear Handel’s Messiah performed there by the National Symphony. Of course, it is not happening this year. Instead, the National Philharmonc is performing Vivaldi’s Four Seasons on this Sunday, December 20th at 2:00 PM in a physically distanced live concert. The concert is free to stream. You won’t be disappointed. The National Philharmonic has led the way in doing virtual performances during the pandemic. We’ve seen a couple of them and they are wonderul. Just navigate to this webpage, and scroll down to “How to Watch National Philharmonic.”

If old time and roots music is more your style (I love this as well as classical music), then check out the Common Ground on the Hill Holiday Concert Extravaganza, which will be broadcast live and free on its Facebook page beginning at 8:00 PM on Sunday, the 20th as well. Common Ground on the Hill is a Maryland Folk Life Center based at McDaniel College in Westminister. One of my dreams is to head off to Westminister (about 45 miles North of here) with my ukelele to attend their summer event in Westminister. For two weeks they offer all kinds of folk arts classes where I can study under ukelele virtuosos. Maybe next summer…or in 2022.

So, if you are looking for some special live holiday music, check these out. We hope to “see” you there!


The View from Jeff
Jeff Explains: Here’s a quick guide I use because I can’t bring myself to toss out my mask every time I run into a store for milk… my DNA came back 40% Scottish after all.

Holiday Greetings?!?

You know, I’m not into wishing people “Happy Holidays” this year…which has been a pretty lousy, unhappy year overall all. This year Clemencia and I came up with a different holiday message for a very different year. We hope it speaks to you.


Be safe, be well, wear your mask, keep distance, wash your hands, and, in every way and every day, stand up for accountability, justice, and peace in our country and our world.

Sunrises, Herons, and Tubas

This past week we have been treated to some very beautiful and unique sunrises. Our kitchen dining table sits next to a window that faces East and the views are sometimes spectacular. My favorite sunrise this week, and in quite some time, is the one you see above.

Here’s another in which we caught the sun peeking over the horizon.

Here’s one more, from this Saturday morning, which has its own kind of beauty. It was foggy and the fog eerily highlighted the street lights.

Each day I try to take a 3 to 5 mile power walk. This year I’ve worn out two pairs of Skecher hiking shoes and just started on my third pair earlier this week. We have a walking trail that is 2.12 miles around and by the time I walk to the trail entrance and back home, it adds about a half mile. I am trying to walk four miles per hour but, so far, my best is 3.6 miles per hour. At 4 MPH I’m practically running – so I’m okay with the slower speed. When I run it is like when I wear shorts – it tends to scare small children. It really is better that I just walk fast.

On my walk I frequently see a beautiful great blue heron who lives on a pond in our neighborhood. A few weeks ago I saw the bird sitting at the very top of a tree and was struck by how large the bird looked compared to the branches it was perched upon. I took a couple of pictures and one of those is below.

I had to use the zoom function on my camera to get this picture but, unfortunately it doesn’t do the beautiful bird justice.

Here the heron looks like a fudgesicle on a stick tucked into the branches. Not very flattering for such a majestic creature. However, yesterday I saw the bird at its favorite pond and got a picture that does it justice and in which you can see where the blue in blue heron comes from.


With Appreciation

Since my Mortality and the Season of Joy post last Monday, December 7th, I have received several very kind comments on Facebook, in Messenger, and even as blog comments. I read each and appreciate them all. A couple of them have even resulted in deeper conversations from with readers. Again, thank you for reading, for your interest, and for your comments.

Allow me to remind you that while I do post a link to TheDailyDrivel.com on my personal Facebook page when I write a new post, I have decided that I am not going to respond to people via Facebook. I am not “liking” responses, I am not responding to comments, and I am deleting comments that are offensive to me or which I judge to be rancorous. However, this does not mean you can’t communicate with me or that I won’t communicate with you.

You can email me directly at ihaveopinionated@gmail.com or you can send me a comment via this blog. Do remember, though, all blog comments are moderated.


Blast from the Past of Stranger Things

It is about 7:00 AM on Sunday, December 13 when I am writing this. All is quiet inside our home. Outside there is the faint sound of traffic on Interstate 95 that we can sometimes hear and then there is this…listen carefully:

What did you hear?

If you think you hear a tuba playing some kind of “oompa” music, you were not mistaken. The music continued for at least an hour. It was an interesting way to start a Sunday morning.

It reminded me of growing up on our farm in Iowa where my mother would awaken me in the morning with any of the following music:

It was all, frankly, a bit jarring, regardless of the tune or genre.

Still, today, the tuba caught my attention and took me back.

Noteworthy

The Pew Research Center published an interesting piece in its FactTank: News in the Numbers on December 11th. Twenty Striking Findings in 2020 is a striking piece to read and view (lots of interesting graphs and charts). Item #3 caused us to race to the front door to make sure it was securely locked. It read:

For the first time since at least the Great Depression, a majority of young adults in the U.S. were living with their parents this year. 

Pew Research Center, December 11, 2020

The View from Jeff
Jeff Notes: I am always amazed that within two sips my coffee cup can go from pristine to something from a crime scene. #WhyIcantHaveNiceThings

Be safe, be well, wear your mask, keep distance, wash your hands, and, in every way and every day, stand up for accountability, justice, and peace in our country and our world.

Shingles Shot

I went back in time yesterday at the point of a needle. As the Walgreen’s pharmacist pushed the needle in, I was transported back to Doc DeYarman’s office in Morning Sun, Iowa.

Doc DeYarman’s office was on the second floor of one of the buildings that lined our single main street in Morning Sun. I don’t remember him clearly. He gave me my childhood immunizations and was my doctor until I was about 10 years old…then he moved away. I’ve always felt a little responsible for that in the same way that I’ve felt responsible for the death of my piano teacher. I had one lesson…then she died. I must have been a really hopeless student and, perhaps, all the wailing and kicking I did in the doctor’s office disqualified me as a patient, too. Happily for me, he only moved away.

Because I saw him so early in my life I do not have many clear memories of him. I do remember laboriously climbing the stairs to his office. With each step I took, my feet seemed to get heavier, my anxiety and dread escalated, and I would begin to whine that I was feeling much better and didn’t need to see him after all.

I’m sure this was the Doc’s coat. But could this be Doc too? https://www.historicalemporium.com/

I also remember his scary white coat. Seriously…I really think it was just like this one, with straight up collars, like mad scientists wear in the movies.

In fact, now that I think about it, this could be a picture of Doc because I don’t remember what he looked like. As far as I know, he may actually have been headless.

The only other thing I remember was the needle he used. I’m pretty sure there was just one that he used on everyone and it was just a sharpened Slurpee straws. Okay, that may be an exaggeration…it was probably a sharpened plastic coffee stirrers. Whatever it was, it was gigantic and it hurt.

Which brings me back to Walgreens. I can’t say that getting shots is my favorite experience (Gee, THANKS, Doctor DeYarman!) but as I’ve grown up and older, I find it a much more tolerable experience. Until yesterday.

As soon as she started pushing the vaccine into my arm it began to hurt and I feared I’d flashback to being a child in Doc’s second floor office. However, except for a moment when I imagined throwing myself on the floor and wailing like I was being attacked by a million honeybees, I was just fine. I stood up, thanked the pharmacist, walked out of the little medical privacy area (where such procedures are performed), and made my way through a crowd of people who had raced over to find out what was going on. (Perhaps my wailing was not imaginary?)

I did ask the pharmacist why the shot hurt so much. She explained that the vaccine for shingles is a slightly thicker liquid than for flu or pneumonia and many other vaccines. In fact, it has to be mixed by the pharmacist before it can be administered. Of course, I had to get the last word in so I said, “Okay, I get that. But does it still have to be as thick as maple syrup?” She laughed maniacally, as she pulled at the top button on her mad scientist’s coat, and said, “You know there are two shots you have to get for shingles now, don’t you? Just wait until you get your second shot, funny man!”

By the middle of the day yesterday my left arm was really sore. By nightfall I was not feeling well and by the time I went to bed I was updating my Last Will and Testament. I had a lousy night’s sleep and today my brain is not much good for anything except for writing a blog. Lucky you, huh?

Clemencia, my delightful spouse who possesses an infinite amount of optimism, reminded me regularly throughout the day “the pain of shingles is far worse than the discomfort of the shot.” I just hate it when medical people (of which she is a retired one) say, “This is going to be a little uncomfortable.” Then, of course, it hurts like H-E-Double Toothpicks, right?

Unfortunately, as in most things, she is right. Shingles is a horrifically painful disease and the “uncomfortable” shots are a preferred alternative.

Aside from being in a post-shingles vaccine delirium, why am I writing this today? Because everyone has a big decision to make about the COVID-19 vaccine when it is finally widely available. It will be important for as many Americans as possible to get vaccinated if we want to eventually live pandemic free. I know some folks are not comfortable with vaccines on principle. Some folks don’t like needles and getting shots. I’m in the latter group myself but this is really important. As Clemencia would say, “a little discomfort saves a lot of pain.”

The pain of COVID-19, as we now know so well, is not measured in sore arms and a lousy night’s sleep. It is measured in destroyed organs, the inability to be with loved ones in their final moments, and, of course, death.

Whatever your feeling about needles, shots, and vaccines in general, I hope to see you in a COVID-19 vaccine line sometime, somewhere soon.

Be safe, be well, wear your mask, keep distance, wash your hands, and, in every way and every day, stand up for accountability, justice, and peace in our country and our world.

To Pluto and Beyond

On Saturday night we went to Pluto…and a little further…just for fun. And it was fun, cool, incredible, and downright really good!

Back in March we had hoped to attend a potluck dinner and presentation at our Quaker Meeting with friends from Baltimore County. The presentation was to be done by Alice Bowman, who is a member of our Meeting and who is Mission Operations Manager (MOM) for NASA’s New Horizons project mission to Pluto and beyond at the Johns Hopkins Applied Science lab just a few miles from our home. Notably, Alice is the first woman to fill the role of Mission Operations Manager, by the way.

Her March presentation had to be cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and it was not until now that she was able to deliver it to our Meeting. And, of course, the presentation was by Zoom. However, that did not make it any less fascinating. Alice recounted the story of New Horizons, which launched in January 2006 shortly after it was demoted as a planet. Though this was a blow to her team, they carried on. In July 2015 New Horizons flew by Pluto and took some extraordinary photos of the planet, such as the one you see above in this blog. With the flyby New Horizons entered the history books.

However, New Horizons is not finished. On January 1, 2019 it also did a flyby of another object in the Kuiper Belt. Now known as Arrokoth, the object has a most unusual shape. Be sure to check it out.

New Horizons has continued to fly outward from the Earth at a record breaking speed of 36,400 mph. At this point, New Horizons is only halfway through its mission. It has enough fuel to keep going until the mid-2030’s and, hopefully, it will continue to send photos back of everything it sees out there.

Last Saturday we were joined by our friends from Baltimore County and also friends from Kansas. As much as we like to disrespect Zoom after so many months of being confined to it, it would not have been possible to gather these friends, or the whole of our Meeting, without it.

If you’d like to see the presentation…or one very similar to it…check out this 53 minute presentation from YouTube featuring Alice speaking to an astronomy group.

Kudos to Alice and the New Horizon’s team for a series of amazing feats of daring and skill to bring Pluto closer to us all! All I can say is “Wow!” And I still prefer to think of Pluto as a planet.

Be safe, be well, wear your mask, keep distance, wash your hands, and, in every way and every day, stand up for accountability, justice, and peace in our country and our world.

Toto, We’re Home!

After several months of hanging out on my professional website I decided it was time to give The Daily Drivel it’s own home. So, here we are. Nice view huh?

Welcome to the new home of The Daily Drivel!

After several months of hanging out on my professional website I decided it was time to give The Daily Drivel it’s own home. So, here we are. Nice view huh?

If you followed it before, no problem. All of that content has been moved over to this new site and you should still be able to see it. You can even read it again…but I’m not sure why you would.

So this will be brief today. It’s a crazy busy time for me in the real world of work so I’ve not had much chance to post a Drivel in a while. I did hear there was a Presidential election in the U.S. but it could just be fake news. 🙂

In the time I’ve been away, the most monumental thing is what happened in Canada. If you’re a reader of the Drivel you know Jeff Logan is a friend and regular contributor to The Daily Drivel. Jeff Logan, who lives in Calgary, Alberta (hence the Canadian connection), has added something new to his resume. He is now Dr. Jeff Logan having earned his PhD in Organizational Leadership from Eastern University. He crossed the finish line on November 10 when he defended his research and dissertation titled, Laughing and Leading Together: The Effective Use of Affilitative Humor by Indigenous Leaders in Southern Saskatchewan. Say THAT three times without tripping over your tongue!

In his most recently cartoon contribution Jeff is discovering the sad reality of completing a PhD program…you are never really done until the last edit is made. Congratulations Jeff!


The View from Jeff

People have asked what has changed since defending my dissertation? Not much until I finish my revisions! But then there will be a difference!!!!

That’s it for now! Don’t be Stupid People! Wear a mask, watch your distance, and wash your hands.

Stay Calm…And Vote!

We are only a few days from the Presidential election in the U.S. Joe Biden has a stable lead over Donald Trump that is outside the margin of error (which is very good thing for those of us who have had enough of Trump and Trumpism). However, we need to stay steady in our resolve to vote and get others to vote who are similarly tired of the way things are under Trump. Yesterday a friend in the U.S. sent me this comment from Facebook made by a Canadian: “Living just North of the United States these last four years has been like living in an apartment above a meth lab.” Well said, eh?

These last few days are going to be tough. We are going to hear a lot of different things on the news and via social media. Some of it is going to make us smile, some of it will enrage us, some of it will make us cry…in other words, it is going the same as every other day since November 8, 2016. Okay, maybe they will be a little tougher because the collective anxiety of the country is rising.

Nate Silver, the data nerd behind the polling website FiveThirtyEight. wrote a really excellent blog piece this last week titled 8 Tips to Stay Sane in the Final 15 Days of the Campaign. Take a look at his blog and breathe a bit easier…but do not stop voting, campaigning, calling, encouraging, and gently pushing others to vote as well. I will not go into the details of how FiveThirtyEight calculates everthing but there are two things I want to highlight.

First, Silver and his cohort of other data nerds run 40,000 computer simulations on possible outcomes of the Presidential Election. In 88% of those, Biden wins.

Second, FiveThirtyEight continuously calculates the average of polls in the U.S. so when you see, for example, that Biden is leading Trump by 9.7%, that is an average of those polls. Now, it is also important to note that FiveThirtyEight has assessed the polls for bias, rigor, method, etc., etc. When you filter the polls, you find those that have a C or higher grade, actually give Biden a larger lead.

Silver’s blog is really interesting because he explains some of this in greater detail. He also cautions, though, that there are limits to statistcal modeling. This means that while Trump has only a 13% chance of winning, he only needed a 30% chance of winning in 2016 to pull it off.

So, let’s stay calm AND let’s keep focused on finishing strong!


In Other News…well, COVID-19 News Anyway

Last week we hit new daily high in the number of COVID-19 cases. We are nearly back up to the same level of confirmed infections as we were in the height of the pandemic in the Spring.

We learning that something now in the U.S. that we learned last March from Masks4All – masks work. Recent research is showing there is a correlation between the number of people who report wearing masks and the number of people who know someone COVID-19 symptoms by geography. Check out the striking graphic within the article. Those who are less inclined to wear masks know more people with COVID-19 symptoms.

Over time, we learn more about the Coronavirus. Sometimes we forget its full name, right? It is the NOVEL Coronavirus which means we never saw it before, had no best practices related to it, and have to learn about it as we go. So, as a result what we know today may be different from what we new yesterday. So, remember how the medical experts have been saying that social interaction with someone who is a carrier of the virus should be less than 15 minutes? Turns out that is 15 minutes over a 24 hour period…not 15 minutes, then take a bathroom break, then 15 minutes more.

In a bit of good news, turns out a 14-year-old may have discovered a potential COVID-19 treatment at home...in her free time…while sheltering in place. Sure makes me feel like I’ve a sloth during the pandemic.


In Other Scary News…

Trump now has the ability to replace civil servants with loyalists. Does this mean Dr. Anthony Fauci is about to be terminated? Stand by!


In Other Infuriating News…

Just as I was putting this blog to bed I got a text from a good friend from my native state of Iowa. He and his spouse tested positive for COVID-19 today and both are showing symptoms. By age and underlying health conditions, both were at risk for contracting the virus and now both are at risk of complications.

The couple has done everything they can do to avoid infection…masking up, social distancing, and even staying away from community activities, including their church where they have been been very active. We are talking very small town Iowa here. Community and church activities are nearly unavoidable but they have been avoiding them when possible, and when it wasn’t, masking and distancing on their own. They were also trying to shelter in place until the derecho that blew threw Iowa in late Summer destroyed their home. They have been in the process of rebuilding it but they have been camping out at a borrowed home in the area.

How could this happen?!? Because Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds is an idiot and has been in lockstep with the Grand Master of Idiots from day one. Add to that, too many people in Iowa who have been following her idiotic lead by not masking up or keeping distance. Just as the legacy of Trump will be the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans, Reynolds legacy will be the deaths of thousands of Iowans.

Four months ago, while my adopted home state of Maryland was struggling to breathe under the weight of COVID-19, Iowa was still largley untouched. Today, according to the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 tracker, Iowa is now catching up. There are over 117,000 confirmed cases in Iowa (not counting my two friends yet) to Maryland’s 141,000+. In terms of deaths, Maryland has registered 4,100+ deaths to Iowa’s 1600+ but it may be only a matter of time.

That’s what it was back in May when COVID-19 was pummeling Maryland and it was still “fake news” to Governor Reynolds…no, wait, it is STILL “fake news” to her because it is to the Grand Master Idiot as well.

Tonight I’m angry that my friends are sick. I’m worried sick about them. This did not have to be! They did the right things, so how did it happen? Because there is a pervasive fallacy that masking protects the wearer. That’s not even half true. In reality, masking protects everyone from you and from me! You and I cannot know for sure that we are not asymptomatic carriers.

Wearing a mask, keeping distance, and washing hands is an act of compassion and caring. It shows our character, our values, and our true patriotism because we understand that, really, we are all in this together. Is that too much to ask? Or is idiocy preferred? We’ll know soon enough now.


Beau of the Fifth Column

My friend K.D. introduced me to Beau’s YouTube talks. I’ve watch several now and I must say, I’m pretty impressed. A pretty thoughtful guy though I don’t think Beau and I would agree about everything. Still, I think I could have a very interesting, useful, and respectful conversation with him. With the holidays and family gatherings coming up – hopefully more virtual than in person, please – Beau’s got some pretty solid advice in this video. Check it out!


The View from Jeff

Jeff continues to align his drawings this month with prompts from Inktober.

Jeff Explains: Todays prompt is “Radio” and it made me think of the boombox in the dressing room of my Bantam A hockey team – the Regina Pythons.

Windy Returns

Recently a friend recommended that I make myself available to Help A Reporter Out (HARO). This is a site where reporters go to find people with specific expertise for stories they are working on. The friend that recommended it to me is a former journalist and someone whose integrity and wisdom I trust. I have been thinking about it, until…

I got a rather annoying call from the Badger News Network and a reporter with a vaguely familiar voice and manner.

  • Reporter: Dr. Klaus?
  • Me: Yes? This is Tom.
  • Reporter: My name is Windy and I’m the Senior Political Correspondent for the Badger News Network.
  • Me: Badger News Network? Is that new? This is the first I’ve heard of it.
  • Windy (the Reporter): You haven’t, sir? I’m surprised. We are well known. Perhaps you’ve heard our slogan? “When you are the news, you’ll be Badgered?”
  • Me: No, I haven’t heard the slogan but it does sound…well…ominous.
  • Windy: Well, we do make folks in the swamp a bit nervous, sir.
  • Me: Uh huh…I’m sure. What can I do for you.
  • Windy: Sir, I’m wondering if you could tell me how you feel about President Trump’s victory over COVID-19?
  • Me: Victory? When did he defeat it? The last I heard – a few minutes ago – our daily cases are going up again and most states are in the midst of a spike. Seems to me like it is still going strong.
  • Windy: No, sir. President Trump defeated it. In fact, you know, he had COVID-19, he overcame it, nearly died, and now is doing great. He’s probably immune!
  • Me: Wait a minute…you’re kidding me right? We have no idea what was really going on with him and COVID-19 and we still don’t know that he isn’t asymptomatic and still infecting people.
  • Windy: No, sir, I’m not kidding you. President Trump defeated COVID-19 globally (it is just about gone, in fact) and he defeated it personally…nearly rising from the dead.
  • Me: This is nuts. I can only think of one reporter that would come up with such a crazy interpretation of the facts…wait a minute…what did you say your name is?
  • Windy: Windy sir.
  • Me: How is that spelled?
  • Windy: “W-I-N-D,” sir.
  • Me: You mean “Windy” like big gust of air or like “Winthrop Dykstra”?
  • Windy: Silence…lots of silence.
  • Me: Did you hear me…you mean “Windy” like…
  • Windy: I heard you, sir.
  • Me: Then what is it.
  • Windy: (Sigh) It’s like “Winthrop Dykstra.”
  • Me: Ha! I know you! You are Winthrop Dykstra-Baum!
  • Windy: More silence…lots of more silence.
  • Me: You are, aren’t you? You are my old nemesis Winthrop Dykstra-Baum, winner of the “Tinfoil Stetson” from Kursgesadt for your groundbreaking story of conspiracy theorists who do not still live in their parents’ basements with a business of hob ferrets.
  • Windy: (In a hoarsey whisper): Yes, it’s me.
  • Me: Winthrop, what are you doing calling me?
  • Win D.: (formerly Windy): I didn’t know who else to call. Nobody else picks up when I call.
  • Me: Are you really surprised, Winthrop? Are your really surprised? Look at who you are working for now and what you trying to get me to believe.
  • Win D.: Look, times are tough. I had to take a pay cut to work with Badger but they are reimbursing my payments for Obamacare…until President Trump is successful in removing it and replacing it with something better.
  • Me: Winthrop, can you hear yourself? Trump doesn’t have a plan to replace it and you know it. You and a lot of folks are going to be in trouble if he does get rid of the ACA, especially now that COVID-19 is heating up again.
  • Win D.: Well, I’m glad you mentioned that. Did you hear that President Trump has defeated COVID-19 once and for all? How does that news make you feel?
  • Me: Good-bye, Winthrop. (Click)

The View from Jeff

This is another of Jeff’s drawings for Inktober 2020 on the theme “Tooth.” Seem to fit nicely with Jeff’s love of hockey.

Aren’t We All?

There is little in the news that makes me laugh these days. Occasionally, though, I’m surprised. Yesterday morning was one of those occasions. I read a headline from The Washington Post that did it for me. Then it made me pause and think, “Hmmm, aren’t we all?” I think you’ll know what I mean when you read the headline below:

Honestly…aren’t we all?

To read the full article, just click on the headline above or click here.

Reading this fun, but very believable, headline made we wonder, “Hey, what other interesting headlines and stories are there out in the world today?” I visited the United Press International’s “Odd News” section to find out what I’ve been missing. Apparently there is a lot of “odd news” about animals:

Danish Zoo’s 41 Year Old Penguin Declared World’s Oldest – Not suprisingly the penguin’s name is Olde, which is Danish for “grandmother.”

Horse Skeleton Siezed at Florida Mail Sorting Facility – That’s just what we need! More ballots delayed by an influx of horse skeletons in the mail system.

Three Llamas Escape from Truck on Oregon Highway – Seriously, the articles says one of the llama’s was given medication to “ease her mama llama trauma.”

Aggressive Cougar Follows Man on Utah Trail for 6 Minutes – This is a pretty interesting video but, why was the guy shooting a video of a cougar that obviously wasn’t messing around?

French Couple Trying to Buy Savannah Cat get Tiger Cub, Instead – Good thing they weren’t being followed by a cougar; they probably would have thought it was a dog just trying to be friendly.

Beaver on the Loose after New Mexico Zoo Escape – Yes, Busy the Beaver is on the loose. And why is this a story?


A Musical Treat from the Late Late Show with James Corden


The View from Jeff

First a big, big shout out to my friend Jeff Logan for submitting his doctoral dissertation to his committee. Next up…defense! I’m proud to say that I was there on Day One of Jeff’s doctoral journey and I have been rooting for him ever since. This week’s cartoon from Jeff celebrates that achievement, with all the anxiety that comes with the accomplishment.

Jeff Explains: Having submitted my dissertation to my committee there was a (very) short window of elation followed by an immense sense of submission remorse (kinda like buyer’s remorse but much worse) as I can only think of all the changes I shoulda/coulda changed!!

One Last Thing…

If you have gone through all the Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime, and Hulu shows that have been recommended as “must watch,” here’s one more. It is from the Discovery Channel and it is Dodgeball Thunderdome. Really. A reality TV dodgeball competition loosely based on the hit movie comedy, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story.

I occasionally enjoy watching American Ninja Warrior because it features people who are truly outstanding amateur athletes competing on an amazing obstacle course (and, honestly, because I love how the announcer growls out, “American Ninja Warrior!” at every opportunity). Dodgeball Thunderdome is nothing like that. It combines an obstacle course with flying red and blue dodgeballs. Getting hit by the red dodgeballs (which sometimes explode red powder) drives the score up against competitors and the blue dodgeballs…well…they just hurt…a little. Add to all of this competitors who are not athletes and wise-cracking commentators. What do you get? A truly chuckle-worthy, and occasionally laugh-out-loud, show that is highly distracting during these challenging times. Check out the trailer and then tune in:


One More Last Thing

Thanks to my Colombian spouse, I have become a big fan of Carlos Vives. Vives nearly single-handedly revived a form of Colombian folk music known as villenato. We have been to three of his live concerts and, honestly, I’ve never attended better live musical events. There is no warm up act and his shows go nonstop for two and a half to three hours. The music is all live and extraordinary. Originally a television star, Vives also creates a theatrical experience in his shows. If you’ve not heard him before, or even heard of him, I wanted to make sure you had a change to experience some of his music. Enjoy!


With Appreciation

This week we watched the 33rd Hispanic Heritage Awards on PBS. I usually avoid award shows like…well…the coronavirus. However, being married to a proud Colombian who has made amazing contributions to her adopted country, it seemed appropriate (and wise) to set aside my disdain for award shows and tune in. Besides, it was only an hour long. Any award show, no matter how bad, can usually be endured for sixty minutes.

This year the awards went to Jessica Alba, Selena Gomez, Bad Bunny, Linda Rondstadt, and the majority of the 3 million farmworkers who are Hispanic and Latino who have continued to put food on our tables during the pandemic. There was also a powerful tribute to John Lewis whose work in civil rights also benefitted Latinos and Hispanics. I was moved by the rendition of the National Anthem performed by the all women’s mariachi group Flor de Toloache, whos NPR Tiny Desk Concert you can see below.

The tribute to farm workers was powerful. It was also a humbling reminder of the privilege I enjoy, even at those times when I feel under appreciated and overlooked for everything I think I do.

The tribute to Linda Ronstadt was one of my favorite segments because I have always been a fan of her music and because the tribute featured one of my favorite music groups, The Mavericks, performing several of her hits with various female singers in the lead. Ronstadt no longer performs due to progress supranuclear palsy. The video below features The Mavericks but it is not a Linda Ronstadt song. It is my favorite song by the group and it is an amazing song to dance to to (yes, it is a cha cha…kind of a fast cha cha, but great fun!).

I feel appreciative today after watching the show. If you have about 55 minutes, I recommend you watch the Hispanic Heritage Awards. I think it will inspire you and remind you, as it did me, how much richer and better we are as a country because of those who have come here (as my ancestors did in the late 1800’s) believing in the promise of the United States of America.


Mostly Speechless

Was that a debate?

Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis.

“Road trip” to wave to his fans outside the hospital in Bethesda.

Weird photo op on his return to the White House (yes, he was breathing heavily after climbing the steps…because he is still sick!).

Clueless.

Desperate.

Idiot.

One last thing…here is something you may have missed in the news. It is footage of Trump and a couple of his advisors engaging with some of the people outside the White House to witness his return from the hospital. Really, it is worth the two minutes it takes to watch it.


The View from Jeff

Jeff Logan is celebrating Inktober, which is really lucky for us! During Inktober artists commit to doing a drawing each day of the month based on a prompt. Today features of Jeff’s Inktober drawings based on the prompt, “Bulky.” You can follow Jeff throughout Inktober at his Instagram page.

Jeff explains: Next day of Inktober drawing prompts. Today’s word is Bulky. Made me think that the weather is nice but winter is coming … and with it winter coats!